Digest>Archives> August 2010

New Hampshire’s Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse Shining Bright


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Loyd Dussault of Johnson Interiors puts the final ...

By Jeremy D’Entremont

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Visitors this summer to Portsmouth Harbor ...

Since 2001, volunteers of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse (FPHL), a chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF), have painted the stairs and woodwork inside Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, rebuilt the 84-foot wooden walkway that leads to the tower, restored the 1903 oil house, and provided educational tours for some 15,000 visitors. In the past couple of years, peeling paint and rust began to plague the exterior of the 1878 lighthouse, which was last painted in 1998.

FPHL’s board of directors decided that it would be best to hire a contractor well versed in preserving historic structures to carry out a thorough repainting of the 48-foot tower, at a cost of $30,000. The bulk of the funds were raised over the past few years through small donations at open houses and other events, memberships, and sales of souvenirs. New England Lighthouses Lovers, another chapter of ALF, donated more than $3500 to the project.

The J.B. Leslie Masonry Company of South Berwick, Maine, was contracted to perform the work. The American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF), parent organization of FPHL, was a recipient of a Maine Preservation 2009 Honor Award for preservation work at Pemaquid Point and Cape Elizabeth lighthouses, carried out in both locations by Leslie.

The interior of the lantern was also painted as part of the project. Some minor repairs were also done, including the sealing of two broken finials on the lantern gallery railing. In addition, protective netting was put up under the lantern gallery deck to prevent cliff swallows from nesting there. Over the years, the small nesting birds had caused much corrosion of the ironwork. When they returned this year to build their nests, the swallows quickly adapted and built their nests in the nearby stone walls of Fort Constitution.

“You can do all types of things in this business,” said Jim Leslie, owner of the J.B. Leslie Masonry Company, “but it’s more fulfilling to get a chance to work on this type of thing. We really enjoy this. People are so interested in these types of projects that it makes us want to go the extra mile.”

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, located in New Castle, New Hampshire, is open to the public every Sunday afternoon, 1 to 5 p.m. The Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse offer many other events as well; see www.porrtsmouthharborlighthouse.org for details.

This story appeared in the August 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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